WWE NXT Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from January 8
After celebrating a year to remember in NXT, the January 8 edition truly started off 2020 for the black-and-gold brand.
Four of the biggest rising stars in NXT competed in a Fatal 4-Way match to determine the No. 1 contender to the NXT North American Championship. Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, Damian Priest and Cameron Grimes all presented dangerous potential challenges to Roderick Strong.
The Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic began in the new year with two fantastic matches. NXT tag champions Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly clashed with NXT UK tag titleholders Mark Coffey and Wolfgang.
Meanwhile, the runners-up from 2019's Dusty Classic, The Forgotten Sons' Wesley Blake and Steve Cutler, faced the dangerous duo from Imperium, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Bartel.
After her huge victory over Shayna Baszler, Rhea Ripley started the year off as NXT women's champion, ready for any challenger.
With Worlds Collide and the Royal Rumble approaching, this week's NXT promised to build fresh momentum for a brand still on the rise.
Rhea Ripley, Toni Storm, Candice LeRae vs. Kay Lee Ray, Io Shirai, Bianca Belair
Toni Storm interrupted Rhea Ripley to challenge the new NXT women's champion to a match at Worlds Collide after she wins the NXT UK Women's Championship once again. Current champion Kay Lee Ray took exception.
Io Shirai and Bianca Belair both declared they deserved the next title shot. Candice LeRae was ready to put her name in the mix too, but The Nightmare started a brawl with the heels.
In the six-woman tag announced in the middle of the brawl, The Genius of the Sky walked out on Belair, leaving The EST to take the Riptide and give the NXT women's champion the win. LeRae hesitated a moment before handing Ripley her title back.
Ripley, Storm and LeRae def. Ray, Shirai and Belair by pinfall.
The NXT women's division, especially including NXT UK, is impressively stacked. This was a great showcase of that depth. Everyone involved got a moment to shine, and it will be exciting to see who works with Ripley next.
Ripley vs. LeRae could be huge, but it feels like the next title feud should be The Nightmare vs. The Genius of the Sky. That's an instant classic for the next NXT TakeOver.
Dusty Rhodes Classic: Imperium vs. The Forgotten Sons
The Forgotten Sons were not ready for Imperium. While Wesley Blake did his best to stay in the match, Fabian Aichner and Marcel Barthel had too much speed and cohesion to lose.
With a powerbomb/diving spinning uppercut combo, Imperium advanced in the tournament.
Imperium def. Forgotten Sons by pinfall to advance to the semifinals of the Dusty Classic.
This was all Imperium, but Aichner and Barthel are good enough to make that entertaining. This sprint moved so fast, yet the NXT UK tag team was constantly smooth.
Forgotten Sons may have deserved a bit more time here even if they were never going to win. They did make the finals last year.
Austin Theory vs. Joaquin Wilde
Austin Theory made up for his loss to Roderick Strong with an impressive performance.
Using his strength and shocking speed, he caught Joaquin Wilde with the Unproven Cutter.
Theory def. Wilde by pinfall.
This was a decently competitive squash, but it did little to truly establish Theory. His match with Strong was solid, but it would have meant more if Theory had been built to that moment.
Now he is starting from the bottom and needs to show he can win competitive matches. If NXT commits to him, he could certainly be a huge star. If he doesn't get that moment, though, he might fall into the same role as Bronson Reed or Shane Thorne.
Dusty Rhodes Classic: Undisputed Era vs. Gallus
Gallus tried to prove the best tag team in NXT was in the UK, but Undisputed Era continued a dominant run.
After a furious attempt by Mark Coffey to keep his team in the match, Adam Cole set up Kyle O'Reilly and Bobby Fish for High/Low on Wolfgang to win.
Undisputed Era def. Gallus by pinfall to advance to the semifinals of the Dusty Classic.
While the tag teams got time to shine, Undisputed Era massively outmatched Gallus. Coffey doesn't hit any of his offense clean, and Wolfgang was far too awkward when fighting two of the best in the business.
Fish and O'Reilly did their best, and they have a potential great semifinal match coming against the winners of next week's first-round clash between The Grizzled Young Veterans and the Time Splitters (Kushida and Alex Shelley).
Johnny Gargano Calls Out Finn Balor for Walking Out on NXT
Johnny Gargano finally had a live mic to address Finn Balor, and he went off on The Prince.
He pointed out that the Irishman walked out on NXT and then came back when it suited him. Balor arrived to taunt Gargano.
Gargano and Balor are both fine promos, but they are improved when paired with better mic workers. This didn't have nearly the spark it should have. They are best served attacking each other without words.
That said, there is no doubt the inevitable match between these two will be a show-stealer.
Mia Yim vs. Kayden Carter
Kayden Carter gave Mia Yim a fight she was not ready for. The young athlete pushed The Head Baddie to her limit, but Yim connected with Protect Ya Neck for the victory.
Chelsea Green laid out Carter afterward, and Robert Stone announced he was taking over NXT, starting with his first signing in Green.
Yim def. Carter by pinfall.
Carter continues to overdeliver in matches where she cannot win. Yim let her look as good as she has to date, though it was surprising that The Head Baddie did not do a little more.
Green's re-debut in NXT with her manager was awkward. It didn't quite land, as she did nothing and was treated as a big deal. Stone is the first manager in NXT in a long time, and it will be interesting to see what he does with that spotlight.
Keith Lee vs. Dominik Dijakovic vs. Damian Priest vs. Cameron Grimes
Each man in this match explained how much he needed the victory, as Keith Lee, Dominik Dijakovic, Damian Priest and Cameron Grimes had all never won gold in NXT.
Explosive offense dominated the contest throughout. While everyone had a moment, it was Grimes who seemed to have the final word. He closed in on the victory before running into a Spirit Bomb that gave Lee the win.
Lee def. Dijakovic, Priest and Grimes by pinfall to become the new No. 1 contender to the NXT North American Championship.
As expected, this was the standout match of the night. Everything built to this, and the talent on display was spectacular. In particular, Grimes showed up despite being the smallest competitor and having the least momentum.
The Limitless One had to win. He has a date with destiny that will lead to NXT gold in 2020. He has earned every victory he can get.